The Briefing: Illinois issues 5,000 licenses to same-sex couples

Meredith Flynn —  July 22, 2014

The_BriefingTHE BRIEFING | A new survey shows 21% of same-sex couples in Illinois have opted to wed since it became legal in the state June 1, but a second survey asks how long those marriages will last. And two more new polls cast doubt on the percentage of homosexuals in the U.S.

Equality Illinois, a group that advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues in Illinois, surveyed the state’s 102 counties and found at least 3,274 marriage licenses have been issued to same-sex couples and 1,694 civil unions have been converted to marriages. According to the most recent U.S. Census, 23,409 same-sex couples reside in Illinois. Using this data, 21.2% of same-sex couples in the state have married or plan to marry.

The group stated the exact number of licenses issued or civil union conversions is difficult to determine because not all of the state’s county clerks recorded whether licenses were issued to same-sex couples, while others recorded conversions together with licenses, not separately.

Nine counties reported no licenses issued to same-sex couples or civil union conversions and five counties did not respond to the survey.

What might the future hold for these couples? The National Review’s online blog, The Corner, reported this month in a new Scandinavian study of civil unions (more heavily equated to marriage than in the U.S.) over the nearly two decades that they have been legal in that region of the world. The study reported male couples were 35% more likely to divorce than heterosexual couples, and female couples were over 200% more likely to divorce. It also found, whether or not the couples had children made little difference in the divorce rate.

Gay, more or less

In related news, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported July 15 that less than 3% of the U.S. population identify themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual. It’s the first time the government has measured American’s sexual orientation through the National Health Interview Survey.

According to the 2013 survey just out, 1.6% of adults self-identify as gay or lesbian, and 0.7% consider themselves bisexual.

And these findings conflict with a new Pew Research Center survey that says there are more homosexuals in the United States than previously reported. The figure cited for years was 10%, based mostly on the Kinsey Report of 1948. Critics called Kinsey’s methods flawed, and said the number was more like 4% to 8%.

Pew used two survey methods, allowing for indirect responses. While the “direct report” method shows 11% of U.S. adults “do not consider themselves heterosexual,” the “veiled report” showed considerably higher numbers: 19% of U.S. adults said they “do not consider themselves heterosexual.” That’s 15% of men and 22% of women.

Using the “veiled method,” Pew also found that 27% of U.S. adults admitted having a sexual experience with someone of the same sex.

Overall, the public perception of the number of homosexuals in the U.S. has grown as same-sex marriage has dominated the news. A 2013 Gallup poll that found Americans believe 25% of the population is gay, lesbian or transgendered.

-Reported by Lisa Sergent for the Illinois Baptist

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Meredith Flynn

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Meredith is managing editor of the Illinois Baptist newspaper.